Originally published in the Penn Capital Star on March 22, 2019
By John L. Miek
(*This post has been updated to include new comment from U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa. and U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District)
Special Counsel Robert Mueller submitted his long-awaited report on Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election to the U.S. Justice Department late Friday afternoon, capping a 22-month-long investigation that’s yielded the indictment and conviction of some of President Donald Trump’s closest advisers.
The Washington Post reported Friday afternoon that U.S. Attorney General William Barr is “is expected to summarize the findings for lawmakers in the coming days … In a letter to the leaders of the House and Senate Judiciary committees, Barr wrote that Mueller “has concluded his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and related matters.”
More from The Post:
The submission of Mueller’s report marks the culmination of his closely held inquiry, a case that has engulfed the Trump administration since its inception and led to multiple guilty pleas from former advisers to the president. With the closing of his investigation, Congress and the newly empowered Democratic House majority will soon assess his findings — and determine what steps to take next.
Barr wrote that Mueller submitted a report to him explaining his prosecution decisions. The attorney general told lawmakers he was “reviewing the report and anticipate that I may be in a position to advise you of the Special Counsel’s principal conclusions as soon as this weekend.”
The attorney general wrote he would consult with Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein and Mueller “to determine what other information from the report can be released to Congress and the public consistent with the law, including the Special Counsel regulations, and the Department’s long-standing practices and policies.”
Earlier this month, the U.S. House voted unanimously, 420-0, including all 18 House members from Pennsylvania, to approve a resolution stating that Mueller’s report should be made public.
Here is what some members of Pennsylvania’s House delegation had to say about the vote at the time.
I’m pleased with this vote. The American people have a right to know. https://t.co/QXgbE20R3H
— Dwight Evans (@RepDwightEvans) March 14, 2019
On Twitter, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-2nd District, said President Donald Trump has every reason to make Mueller’s report public.
“Why wouldn’t he?” Boyle asked. “Transparency is essential to fully understanding how Russia interfered in our 2016 election and preventing it from happening again.”
Today, I joined House Democrats to vote for a resolution encouraging President Trump’s Attorney General to make Special Counsel Mueller’s final report on the Russia investigation public. (1/2)
— Rep. Brendan Boyle (@CongBoyle) March 14, 2019
In a statement, U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, D-4th District, offered a similar sentiment.
“Congress expects to receive the Special Counsel’s full report, and the American people deserve to know exactly what Mr. Mueller’s team has uncovered. That kind of transparency and accountability is the hallmark of good government,” Dean said.
Added U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-7th District: “This resolution passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support because Republicans and Democrats agree that American people deserve to know what is in this report – and what Special Counsel Mueller has uncovered, if anything. The American people deserve transparency in their government.”
*In a statement released Friday night, U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, R-1st District, said that “As a former FBI Agent, I have consistently supported my former boss, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation and have insisted on allowing it to proceed unimpeded.
“Now that it has concluded, the report must be made public and full briefings must be made to Congress. We must insist on 100 percent full transparency on all investigative matters and full disclosure to the public. Once that occurs, and once we respond accordingly, it is time to move on,” Fitzpatrick said.
A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., confirmed Friday that the Keystone State’s senior United States senator wants the report to be made public.
In an interview with the editorial board of The Times-News of Erie published Wednesday, Toomey offered a thoroughly parsed answer when he was asked whether Mueller’s report should be made public.
According to the newspaper, Toomey cited “longstanding history and practice” at the Justice Department where, in the case of investigations that are not referred for prosecutions “you don’t air the dirty laundry that you may have discovered,” he told the newspaper.
Toomey told The Times-News that “There’s going to be all kinds of people mentioned in this report, I assume, and some of them have been prosecuted.”
“We know all about it, that’s fine. But others probably are going to be people that Mueller decides, for whatever reason, not to refer for prosecution,” he continued. “It’s not clear to me that we should break with the tradition and the practice of the Justice Department and make all that information public. Maybe it should be redacted in ways that shield the identity of those people,” he said.
But, “Toomey also cited the long-held belief of the Justice Department that sitting presidents cannot be indicted and therefore it is the duty of Congress to hold presidents accountable for violations of the law,” the newspaper reported.
“That’s what our founders envisioned,” Toomey told The Times-News. “That would imply to me that at least Congress and therefore really the public does need to know about whatever Mueller has discovered about the president because there is no other mechanism for holding him accountable in the event that there was a breaking of the law.
*In a statement emailed to The Capital-Star, Toomey said he was “pleased that … Mueller was allowed to complete his investigation unimpeded. I believe it’s in the national interest for Attorney General Bill Barr to be as transparent as possible about the investigation’s findings with Congress and the public – consistent with the law and longstanding Department of Justice policy. I have shared this view with the Attorney General.”